Marc Forster is an interesting director. Films such as The Kite Runner, Stranger Than Fiction, Stay, Finding Neverland and Monster’s Ball couldn’t be more different. And he surprises yet again with Quantum of Solace.
This ‘second’ Bond outing furthers the more realistic and brutal representation of our favourite secret agent. He really is a nasty piece of work. He drives, runs, leaps and punches his way through all manner of foes in yet another flick that owes a hell of a lot to the Bourne franchise. Daniel Craig doesn’t have the same mischievous, suave demeanour as previous Bonds. Instead he’s one scary motherf*cker. I truly would not like to meet this man. There’s only really one moment where he acts like a ‘classic’ Bond, and it doesn’t end well, as if to further bring the character out of the carefree chauvinistic past and into a present where actions have consequences.
Revenge is of course the key motivation here, and the film is most definitely a sequel, rather than the self contained Bond films we got used to throughout the last few decades. To be honest, I wished that I’d rewatched Casino Royale beforehand, because this one doesn’t go out of its way to help you connect the dots. I may complain about Hollywood films overstating plot and motivations, but Quantum of Solace goes completely the other way, and is more than a little fuzzy at times.
The action has pros and cons. On the one side, Bond gets the shit kicked out of him, which is great. Harrison Ford was such a good action hero in Indiana Jones because he made it look like he was really hurting. Too many action films feature unstoppable heroes who never seem to be in any real danger. Here Bond is well and truly out of control – he’s so hell-bent on revenge that he has no care for personal safety. It’s great.
Then there’s the cinematography. Now I know that this is usually Mark’s thing, but I really had trouble understanding what was going on, particularly in the first couple of set pieces. The camera is handheld and the shots are tight and oh-so brief. I really wished that they had pulled the camera back more often so we could understand the geography a little better.
Olga Kurylenko (who was in both Hitman and Max Payne) is very good, and her character is possibly one of the best Bond girls simply because she has no interest in him. Mathieu Amalric is the typical Bond Euro villain… looking a bit like Roman Polanksi, really, though we don’t get an understanding of his personal motivation, so it’s hard to be interested in his actions at all.
This is a strong film, though a little too single minded for its own good. I’m impressed that it was only 106 minutes (weren’t Bond films always too long?), but it perhaps needed a little bit more. Being deliberately vague about primary plot elements is frustrating rather than classy.Rating: